Ohtsuka M, Kikuchi N, Yokoi H, Kinoshita M, Wakamatsu Y, Ozato K, Takeda H, Inoko H, Kimura M.
Double anal fin (Da) is a spontaneous medaka mutant that exhibits an unique ventralizing phenotype, a mirror-image duplication across the lateral midline in the dorsal trunk-tail region. In the mutant, early D-V specification appears normal but the altered phenotype becomes evident during late embryogenesis. In this study, we genetically specified the mutation to a 174-kb region harboring two zinc-finger type transcription factors, zic1 and zic4, and compared the genomic structures of this region between wild-type and Da mutant fish. No mutation was found in the coding regions of either gene of the mutant, while two fragments, 324 bp and 3-4 kb long, were found inserted downstream of zic1 and zic4, respectively. Probably as a result of this, the expression of both genes is lost in the derivatives of the dorsal (epaxial) somite and the region dorsal to the terminal axis bending. All these tissues are morphologically affected or become ventralized in the mutants. In contrast, the expression in the head region and dorsal spinal cord remained unchanged. Detailed characterization of Da phenotypes revealed a novel defect in the axial skeleton (spina bifida occulta) that was also found in zic1-deficient mice. Finally, zic1-morpholino injection partially phenocopied early Da phenotypes. These findings strongly suggest that zic1 and/or zic4 are required for dorsal identity in the trunk-tail region and that loss of their expression in the epaxial somite derivatives and tail region causes the Da phenotypes.